1967 And All That
The campaign against those pop stars denounced by the conservative newspaper, The Daily Mail, for their decadence reached its zenith with the police raid on Redlands, Keith Richard's house in West Sussex, in February, 1967. Tipped off by the Sunday scandal sheet, The News of The World, the officers discovered a small, stoned party in progress that included a young woman, - tantalisingly referred to in press reports as 'Miss X' - stark naked under a fur rug and allegedly under the influence of marijuana. At the trial, in June, the judge directed the jury to disregard Marianne Faithful's evidence that she hadn't been smoking pot at the time and sentenced Richard to a whole year in prison, plus £500 costs, for allowing his house to be used as a venue for smoking what the law quaintly referred to as 'Indian hemp'.

At the same time, Mick Jagger - the Rolling Stones' ringleader and Parental Enemy No. 1 of the period - was given three months for possessing four pep pills that had been purchased perfectly legally in Italy. This blatant injustice prompted the famous Editorial column in the newspaper of record, The Times, of July 1st, 1967, headed: 'Who breaks a butterfly on the wheel?' While quoting William Blake and denouncing the phenomenon of social revenge in which 'a single figure becomes the focus for public concern about some aspect of public morality,' William Rees-Mogg failed to mention marijuana. Indeed, he pointed out that 'Mr Jagger was not charged with complicity in any other drug offence that occurred in the same house.'

"We were kind of proud to have been introduced to pot by Dylan, that was rather a coup. It was like being introduced to meditation and given your mantra by Maharishi. There was a certain status to it..." Paul McCartney
While the injustice done to Jagger may have appeared more clear-cut, the omission of any mention of his partner in crime, Richard, was pertinent. The only person found in possession of cannabis at Redlands was a Canadian drug dealer called David Scheidermann, who had since disappeared and whom Keith Richard had denounced from the witness box during his trial as an informer planted by The News of the World in order to entrap the Stones. Although Keith was facing 12 months incarceration for doing nothing, actually, his debauched image was deemed to be less defensible. On appeal, however, the evidence relating to the naked girl was deemed to be extremely prejudicial and the case against Keith Richard was quashed. Mick Jagger was let off with the standard lecture about being a responsible role model and given a conditional discharge.

On Monday July 24, 1967, an advertisement appeared in The Times declaring: "The law against marijuana is immoral in principle and unworkable in practice", signed by more than sixty luminaries of the time. Jonathan Aitken, the disgraced former Tory politician, was top of the alphabetical list, followed by radical lefty, Tariq Ali. Also featured were such names as David Dimbleby, Herbert Kretzmer, George Melly, and all four members of The Beatles, MBE, who paid for it. The ad, placed by an organisation called SOMA (after Aldous Huxley's euphoriant in Brave New World, the acronym stood for 'Society Of Mental Awareness', as if there were any other kind) cited medical opinion that cannabis is innocuous, quoted Spinoza ('All laws which can be violated without doing anyone any injury are laughed at') and proposed a five point plan for the repeal of cannabis prohibition.

At that time, no more than half a million people in Britain had actually tried cannabis. The London drug scene where The Beatles and The Stones were lauded like sheiks was an exclusive club where the in-crowd understood that true wealth is not calculated in terms of material possessions, but in love, peace and the kind of chemically-enhanced consciousness proselytised by the American academic turned Acid Guru, Timothy Leary.

John Lennon summed up the attitude in the lyric to Baby You're A Rich Man, on the flipside of All You Need Is Love, in the Summer of '67: 'How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people? While the song doesn't mention LSD specifically, a later line asks:'How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people/Tuned to a natural E?'Prescient though his lyrics may have been, John Lennon was hardly in the vanguard of fashion when it came to getting busted: it wasn't until near the end of the following year that Lennon picked up the conviction for possession of cannabis that was to cause him so much grief in years to come, when he wanted to live in the U.S.